At the recently concluded Miss NTD global Chinese beauty pageant hosted by the New York-based NTDTV, one sponsor particularly stood out—Winnie Tse, Deputy General Manager of the health and wellness store, Green Eastern USA Inc.
Amidst the bustling crowd, Tse confidently introduced her company’s offerings, albeit in halting Mandarin. As a pageant’s sponsor, her radiant smile spoke volumes about her unique resilience and strength.
Many may not realize that Tse’s business faced substantial setbacks just two years ago. Owing to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), her once best-selling products were pulled off the shelves of over 200 chain stores. Now, having reestablished herself in the United States, she has reintroduced these once-popular items to the American market in a matter of months—thanks to an indomitable spirit that she attributes to her Hong Kong roots. Her goal? To carve out a business landscape devoid of fear and manipulation.
Raised During Hong Kong’s Boom Years, Advocate of Local ValuesBorn in the 1980s during what many consider Hong Kong’s “Golden Era,” Tse fondly recalls a time when hard work was fairly rewarded. “I was fortunate to witness Hong Kong’s rapid economic development,” she said. “In those days, a single breadwinner working as a hawker could sustain an entire family. My education, shaped by the British governance of Hong Kong, also emphasized the rule of law.”
Tse reminisces about a Hong Kong that thrived on free trade, bolstered by a solid economic framework and a population of industrious, ethical people. This collective effort propelled the city to its status as one of the “Four Asian Tigers.”
With years of experience in marketing and sales within the pharmaceutical and health care sectors, Tse eventually ventured into entrepreneurship as a product agent. She maintained that high-quality products, a good reputation, and adherence to market principles would win consumer loyalty. Yet, it seemed fate had other plans, presenting her with a pivotal challenge that would test her business convictions.
Harnessing Quality Products and Trustworthy Media for Business SuccessDuring her tenure in marketing and sales for a health care and pharmaceuticals firm, Tse was approached by a sales representative from The Epoch Times, who inquired about potential advertising opportunities. Knowing that her circle of relatives, friends, and particularly business associates who frequented China and Hong Kong were avid readers of the publication, Tse saw this as an advantageous business move.
“Your readership perfectly aligns with my target demographic. Advertising with you would undoubtedly yield positive results,” she expressed.
Yet, mindful of the political scrutiny her employer faced, she cautiously deferred the proposition, adding, “Should I run my own business in the future—a venture free from political constraints—I would be open to advertising with you.” As it turned out, her words were prescient; Tse eventually launched her own company and made good on her promise by partnering with The Epoch Times for advertising.
“At that juncture, I had set up a small-scale venture specializing in the distribution of uniquely formulated, high-efficacy products,” Tse recounted. Among her clients was Green Eastern World Ltd., which produced cutting-edge offerings like Unitein Toothpaste. Infused with natural, patented ingredients, the product quickly gained traction for its gum-repairing properties. “It wasn’t long before the toothpaste was stocked in over 200 stores, drawing rave reviews and a dedicated customer base,” Tse revealed.
Beyond Unitein Toothpaste, Tse also managed to populate store shelves with a slew of equally popular products—like REGENBIO, a natural joint care supplement, and Taheebo, an anti-inflammatory remedy for arthritis and joint pain. Citing the significant reach and influence of The Epoch Times, she ventured into advertising through the publication’s platforms. The strategy paid off handsomely, attracting a loyal clientele.
As a distributor, Tse attributes her success to a two-fold formula: sourcing high-quality products and leveraging credible media. “The linchpin is trust,” she emphasized.
Sales Plummet Amidst Political Turbulence, Business Sector Faces’ White Terror’Between 2017 and 2021, Tse experienced a steady rise in the distribution of products across various chain stores. However, the enactment of Hong Kong’s National Security Law marked a chilling turn of events. A wave of ‘white terror’ swept across the business landscape, with companies aligned with independent media bearing the brunt of the suppression. Tse’s operation was no exception to this unsettling trend.
August 2021 stands out as a particularly bleak period for Tse, who described the ordeal as “a bolt from the blue.” In an abrupt move, her top-selling products were summarily removed from store shelves. The products, which had maintained strong sales even during the pandemic, were returned en masse within a week, absent any cited quality issues.
Complicating matters further, Tse’s family in mainland China received intimidation from the National Security Bureau. “They cautioned me against being ‘flashy’ and explicitly warned against advertising in The Epoch Times,” Tse said.
She surmised that her business faced reprisals owing to its advertising association with the media outlet. “The chain stores didn’t offer any explanation. They pulled products represented by my company, causing an abrupt halt in revenue streams,” she elaborated.
Left bewildered and aggrieved by these developments, Tse reflected on a memorable quote from Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung’s film, ‘Unbeatable’: “Once you’re on stage, there’s no room for timidity. If you’re timid, you’ll lose forever.” Guided by this philosophy, Tse remains steadfast. “I acted in line with my conscience and saw no reason to retreat,” she declared.
Seeking New Horizons: Hong Kong Entrepreneur Explores Untapped U.S. MarketLeft with no choice but to shutter her business in Hong Kong, Winnie Tse was forced to reevaluate her career path.
“I’m an ordinary businessperson with a simple ambition: to bring quality products to consumers, much like Hong Kong’s entrepreneurs of the ’70s and ’80s did with exports like garments, watches, and toys. I wanted to continue that legacy,” said Tse.
When Green Eastern World Ltd., a company she had worked with extensively, decided to venture into the U.S. market in mid-2022, Tse readily accepted their offer to become Deputy General Manager. “If my voice is suppressed in Hong Kong, I have no reason to remain idle there. Why not bring high-quality products with traditional Eastern concepts to mainstream America?” she opined.
Fortuitously, Tse’s move coincided with a U.S. policy announcement allowing Hong Kong residents to apply for a two-year work visa. “The ‘American Dream’ is not just a catchphrase. It is a reality that offers opportunities for advancement to anyone willing to work diligently,” Tse noted, drawing parallels with the erstwhile ethos of Hong Kong society.
Green Eastern opened its inaugural U.S. store in New Jersey at the end of 2022 and simultaneously launched an American website, with Tse playing a pivotal role in its planning. She quickly noticed key differences between American and Hong Kong consumers. “While Hong Kong buyers readily grasp the effectiveness of a product based on their understanding of Chinese medicine, Americans want a comprehensive breakdown of ingredients,” she said.
Navigating the expansive and regionally diverse U.S. market has its own challenges, but Tse found guidance from a group of second-generation Chinese Americans, who helped her understand American consumer behavior and contributed significantly to her website design and product packaging.
As an advertising partner of The Epoch Times, Green Eastern has also attracted a broad spectrum of readers interested in high-quality health products from the East. “The Epoch Times has a presence in 36 countries, offering immense potential for our global expansion,” said Tse.
Recently, Green Eastern sponsored NTDTV’s global Chinese beauty pageant. This event aligns perfectly with the company’s mission to meld natural ingredients with traditional Eastern wisdom for health and wellness products. Tse concluded by emphasizing that businesses can indeed be altruistic, citing a childhood fable about a selfless butterfly that won a beauty contest by helping others.
“In business, catering to market demand is a form of altruism. It’s how we create win-win situations,” she said.